Continuing the Series…. Controversial? Moi? This is Part 2. Be warned there is MUCH worse to come in the future including Cats, Dogs, and of course Kittens. Errr …. did I actually mention Ducks? Never mind all will become as clear as mud in due course 🙂

We all know that we can’t always put pictures of cats and dogs on, or even near, finished quilts or goodness gracious sleeping on sewing machines, quilt sandwiches, disrupting cut out bits on the floor, because the pictures are frowned on, or even banned on most of the major worldwide FB quilting groups or online forums. Babies on quilts get equally frowned on too on most quilting social media platforms.

I did a blog recently about quilts for our grandchildren & the 4th Emergency Service with a very special quilt for a neighbour who is a firefighter, who’s son was literally was being delivered at home. I delivered the quilt at 3am, as his wife was giving birth.

So today’s baby “play mat” blog is all about “THAT” friend, that completely off the wall bonkers one, and yes we all have one of those, but this one is beyond even extra exceptional!

In 2018 she was on holiday in the middle of the Red Sea on a Scuba Dive boat off the coast of Hurghada in Egypt. This was a “sleep on board the boat diving trip”, as it is quicker to get to prime dive sites in ribs or inflatables, than any luxury hotel. I received a random Messenger Text from her, after me liking her FB pictures of her & other people in strange suits with tanks on their back, asking if I had any diving related fabric. This apparently was for a baby arriving shortly, to be born to one of the other dive team’s wives. I hasten to add the actual wife & accompanying bump was not on board, and was not immediately labour imminent, necessitating emergency evacuation of father to be. I responded asking her to be more specific about what she was looking for.

I just need to remind you she is on a boat in the middle of absolutely nowhere in the Red Sea, and I am in Oxfordshire, & we are talking via Messenger and conversing in what it seems nanoseconds, and there is also a time difference! Got to love those Satellites! Well… starfish, dolphins, turtles, sharks … you know the sort of thing she responded!

Mmmmm … Quick think…. Oh OK, got it sorted! I had just bought a Fabric Freedom “Under The Sea” FQ pack from the UKQU FB “Personal De-Stash Classifieds” site, only because I thought it was cute, with no idea of what to do with it. Can’t find the fabric and can’t find camera, so I googled the range and sent her this… with an “Any use?” message, all the way to the middle of the Red Sea, where the “Under the Sea” creatures are more than a bit real! Of course I am psychic, and knew that one day a friend would be in dire need of just this exact fabric while just bobbing along on a boat in the middle of nowhere, when I first bought it!


Immediate response …. yes great… thanks mate! Thereby comes the dilemma … 5 FQ’s might not be enough, don’t want to let her down of course. I searched the web, as no very local quilt shops are sadly left, and even those a bit further away are unlikely to stock it, especially as now probably out of print. Then came the next dilemma … OMG they made a matching panel. Forget plain navy for the back, I have to find this!

Success! Phew! I located a couple, and some yardage of each to maximise my few FQ’s. I thought this would be fabulous for a double sided play mat with counting bubbles as a bonus!

I went very simple, trying to make the most of the prints, which is always a good idea for a youngling anyway! I worked out how many patterns I had in the FQ range to match the width and length of the panel, which was 5, then added the 1/4″ seam allowance using a steam driven Casio calculator, and worked out that if I cut the Fat Quarters into 3 vertically & horizontally it would not EVER fit the new amazing WOF fabric panel for the back! 🙁 Duh! I think at that point severe words like Crab, Lobster, & obviously Barnacles were probably used! I think I still have the original unused 5 FQ’s somewhere still! However the challenge was on!

Thank goodness I bought the yardage… IF I cut the yardage into 9″ squares, then deduct 4 x 1/2″ lost across the row from each of the 1/4″ seam allowances, I will end up with a finished row 43″ wide, so that’ll do! Next to tackle was the length of the panel. Again I didn’t want to lose too much, so 6 squares down the length nearly sorted that one out too! Just a smidgeon of the binding over the top of the “10” bubble & the crab’s tummy, but the baby won’t notice.

Just a gentle explanation ref my attitude to the quilting and binding. I have been on FMQ courses and had fun but never succeeded. I have the right machine to be able to drop the feed dogs, and a wide throat to make FMQ easier. I have a “Super Slider” mat, had extension tables for my Pfaff Performance 5, & now a gorgeous 2nd hand Horn table with bespoke insert. I have the right gloves, BUT what I don’t have is the upper body strength or even equal arm & shoulder strength to achieve what I would have loved to have been able to do years ago. If only I had been into machine Quilting back then. Without going into too many details, I am disabled, through initial accident and many subsequent surgeries, so I make use of the built in fancy stitches in my machine to add interest to the bit I enjoy the most, which I can occasionally still do, the piecing. I use variegated threads to hide multiple sins, and wiggly stitches (inbuilt) to hide where I go wonky when eyeballing it. I line it up & let the machine with it’s inbuilt walking foot, to do the chonka chugga chonka chugga hard work rest of the journey. You have to adapt to so much in real life, so you somehow find a way to adapt your sewing too, to “fit the cloth” as it were.

Wiggly worked for this, well it was “waves” … quilted from the front along rows and diagonally across the squares. I machined my binding on the front & then overstretched it to the back & pinned it and then used a herringbone fancy inbuilt stitch to catch the edge. On the front it only appears in the ditch, after the smooth binding as a fancy echo…. result! Friend loved it as did the diver’s family. Baby response unknown!

On a very genuine & extremely serious note ref babies and quilts, without being a spoilsport to anyone wanting to make one, please only ever use them under a baby on the floor, not over. Quilts, duvets and pillows shouldn’t be used for babies under one year old as bedding. This is due to potential baby overheating and safety issues. If your gifted baby playmat endures the floor phase, then it can become a much loved blanky or snuggly & great for tepees and tents in the garden. If not… I bet there is cat or dog or three who will love it in their bed at home, or at an animal refuge/rescue centre.

Just to prove I still sometimes have a sense of humour… Me snorkelling… Yea right! Eventually lowered into the sea using several underarm noodles from a boat, which took a few people to be fair! Complete with a waist buoyancy aid, then plus an arm through my personal lifebelt, tow rope & a very patient diver. He was just towing the floating me along, so I could see the most amazing things like rays, sharks and turtles! Not the most glamorous photograph ever taken of me, but an amazing experience nevertheless bobbing along, albeit under tow!

Coming next … Controversial? Moi? Part 3 …. Babies on Quilts & “THAT” Friend”. (Yes Her Again!) Oh Boy did she pull a total Classic on the next Text Message! But patience my dear readers …. Cats, Dogs, Ducks and yes even Kittens will be coming soon! xxx